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Pitino Says Georgetown's Been Lucky

Getty photo.

Today's Georgetown-Louisville game was great stuff, and you'd have to figure there's a high chance these teams play again next week in New York. Which is why Pitino continuing to go out of his way to get himself posted on some sort of locker room bulletin board seemed odd, if nothing else. Here's what he said when asked today how Georgetown keeps winning these last-possession last-minute games (6-0 this season).

"They've been lucky," he said. Then he took a minute, and decided to add some more.

"They won because they were better," he said. "And obviously good teams get luck, but on a goaltending call, on a push out-of-bounds, on a Hibbert three, God bless them, they're closer to heaven than we are.

"But tonight they were better. They made the plays down the stretch. It wasn't luck. Those other games were pretty lucky. You've got to just take your hat off. Put it this way, if they were going to the race track we'd all be up a lot of money right now."

John Thompson III, any response to Pitino?

"I'll just say this, when he came out of the locker room with the same clothes on, I felt pretty good," Thompson said, referring to Pitino's white-suit-dark-suit half-time switch during the teams' last meeting.

"It takes luck," he continued, after everyone stopped laughing. "It takes luck. There's no doubt about that, it takes luck. And at the same time, that group in there has put themselves in a position to be lucky. We believe in what we're doing and how we're doing it, so when the luck kind of rolls around, we're there to take it. And so there were a lot of situations where we could have [slipped], this game or other games, we stuck with it, we believed in each other, we believed in how we were doing things. And so in life, just putting yourself in the position to be lucky is what it's all about. So if you want to call it luck, we'll take it."

And just in case Pitino didn't produce enough gambling overtones, here's what Thompson said about enjoying the win.

"I said this last year, two years ago, we finished this phase but we're still sitting at the table," he said. "Games are still going on, cards are still being played, the dice are still in someone's hands. So we can't build ourselves up and start to feel good right now, we've got to keep playing."

(PS: Thompson also said that Chris Wright, who dressed today for the first time in ages, will likely play in the Big East Tournament. What a stroke of good luck for the Hoyas.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 8, 2008; 3:21 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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Next: Famous People Like the Hoyas


Great Game. Great environment. It was a blast to be at. Love it.


Posted by: mdhoya97 | March 8, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

pitino is such a greaseball. if his team could shoot fts or hit a shot from beyond the arc, the outcome may have been different. tough 'luck', ricky-boy. i am surprised he didn't blame the refs too.

Posted by: hoya | March 8, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Totally unsurprising. This is, after all, the coach who complained at the beginning of the season about having to play us twice.

"The Big East killed us this year with our schedule. It's not fair, it's not objective. These guys are my friends, or ex-friends. They're Italian. I WILL get revenge. It's just an unfortunate situation, but we'll get through it."

Posted by: Maeve | March 8, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

According to Kenpom's "Luck" ratings (from, which measures how a team's expected performance based on points allowed/scored per possession compares to the team's actual record), Georgetown has been the 52nd luckiest team (out of 341) in Division I, so Pitino does have a point.

Posted by: Raj | March 8, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Pitino needs to worry more about his team's collapse then if G-Town is lucky. And Raj how the hell is a computer program going to predict how "lucky" someone is? That's just dumb! LOL

Posted by: pitinosuks | March 8, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

a team that gives up more points than it scores but that still has a winning record is lucky to some degree. you don't need a computer to see that. i'm not saying that applies to Georgetown (who have undoubtedly been more lucky than not), but the computer isn't deciding or predicting anything in this case, it's merely interpreting the numbers as any human could do as a way to analyze performance. we can then use that analysis to make predictions on how we think teams will perform in the future. it's not foolproof, but it can be a useful tool. computers simply make it easier to make the calculations.

Posted by: jamie | March 8, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Yes, they've been fortunate. They've put themselves in several predicaments, playing poorly against teams that they should have beaten handily. But don't tell me that Jessie Sapp hitting the game-winner against WVU, Hibbert hitting a three against UConn, or Wallace making three free throws to send them in to OT last weekend is pure luck. They play well in pressure-filled situations.

As for the WVU non-call of goaltending... does anyone really think the video conclusively showed that it was goaltending? Didn't seem that way to me. Maybe I've got my Hoya goggles on, but I think the outrage over that non-call is a little much. And did anyone think Wallace wasn't fouled while shooting for three last weekend?

The call against Villanova was legitimately awful, and it's embarrassing to win that way... but people seem to forget that the game was tied at that point. Yes, it SHOULD have gone to OT, but it seems that many people think that the free throws brought the Hoyas back from a deficit. Didn't happen that way.

Yeah - they've been lucky, but I think you still have to like this team's ability to grind games out to the finish against strong opposition. They make too many mistakes during the course of the game, but they always seem to have answers in the final few minutes.

Posted by: Hobie Jenkins | March 8, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Just a comment -- what is label as "luck" by Pomeroy isn't Luck.

It's variation from expected wins based on points for or points against. It's not necessarily luck when you do well -- it's simply something that isn't explained by the system.

In other words, if you have a highly experienced team with balls of freaking steal, which the Hoyas have, you expect to do a bit better.

This team is money, and the seniors have been amazing. What a class.

Posted by: Alan | March 8, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Rick, if you're listening, I can't understand why you wouldn't take the high road and just give Gtown credit. You came in with a healthy squad playing great basketball, and had 40 min to beat Gtown and couldn't. Trailed most of the game. So just take it like a man, Rick, and give some credit. Calling into question past Gtown games is irrelevant and pointless and makes you sound whiny and bitter, given that you've lost TODAY. I'm sure the back-to-back Big East champs would love the chance to make you choke on those words in the Garden next week.

Posted by: Ron | March 9, 2008 1:59 AM | Report abuse

gtown has been the luckiest team in the nation this year... that call against nova was complete bs! their student section is terrible too. its so quiet they might as well not even show up..

Posted by: . | March 9, 2008 2:24 AM | Report abuse

Aren't Pitino and Thompson friends? I think it was just a rub.

Posted by: jmc | March 9, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Hibbert hitting a game-winning 3 isn't luck? that sounds like the purest example of luck i can think of. but i agree that good teams often make their own luck, or at least seem to benefit from it more often (with the odd bit of help from a referee or two).

Alan - point well made. the occasional blowout win or loss could skew the "luck" numbers significantly. i'm assuming he uses "luck" because it's easier to remember than "variation from expected wins based on points for and points against" and it exposes the shortcomings of just having a computer crunch numbers to figure out who is better or who should win a certain game.

Posted by: jamie | March 9, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hibbert practices threes every day, that isn't luck. He made his only other attempt as well.

The 'Nova call was legit, Wallace got pushed out of bounds. The timing wasn't great, but that's not the ref's fault. No contact, no foul.

Posted by: danj | March 9, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

i agree with you, danj. why is it luck if hibbert practices that shot? if that is luck, then any shot in any game is luck. in the nova game, the score was tied when wallace was fouled, so it would have gone to ot with a no call, not necessarily a nova win. at first i disliked the call, but upon reviewing it, i feel it was the right call. wallace was bumped and his foot hit the line. either it had to be a foul or the ball had to go back to nova. a call had to be made.

the only call someone could gripe with is wvu. i think it was a good no call. even on replay i am not sure the ball is on its way down - in real time an impossibility to tell. wvu player should have dunked that, but didn't. tough loss for wvu, but a legit win for GU.

louisville may get another shot at the Hoyas in the garden. that would be the rubber match.

Posted by: hoya | March 9, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Danj is absolutely right. Anyone who goes to Georgetown games regularly knows that Roy shoots 3s before every game and hits the vast majority of them. UConn left him open to take a shot he is, surprisingly, quite proficient at hitting.

As for Pitino and Louisville, it was a great game. Just don't chalk all of our success this year up to "luck," thank you very much.

Posted by: hoyafan62 | March 9, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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